Oliver Ditson

  (Redirected from Oliver Ditson and Company)

Oliver Ditson (October 20, 1811 – December 21, 1888) was an American businessman and founder of Oliver Ditson and Company, one of the major music publishing houses of the late 19th century.[1]

Oliver Ditson
Portrait of Oliver Ditson, 19th century
BornOctober 20, 1811
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedDecember 21, 1888(1888-12-21) (aged 77)
Occupationmusic publisher
Known forpioneer of music publishing in America
RelativesAlice M. Ditson (daughter-in-law)

Early life and careerEdit

Oliver Ditson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, of Scottish ancestry, on October 20, 1811. His parents lived near the home of Paul Revere at the lower end of Hanover Street.[2]

In 1823, just out of grammar school, Oliver became an employee of Col. Samuel Hale Parker, father of J.C.D. Parker, the organist and composer. Col. Parker owned a book store on Washington street, near Franklin Street in Boston, and kept in addition to his regular stock a few pieces of music. At the time the Waverley novels were making their appearance and Col. Parker was republishing them as rapidly as they could be gotten from England.[2]

Oliver left the bookstore to master the printer’s trade. About 1834, fire destroyed the store of Col. Parker. With what was saved he moved with his now indispensable young friend into a wooden building on Washington street, near School street, and later took a single counter in the famous ‘Old Corner Bookstore,’ then kept by William D. Ticknor in the gambrel roofed building erected in 1712, at the northwest corner of Washington and School streets. At this location, in 1834, the firm of Parker & Ditson was formed. Mr. Ditson was then twenty-three, and changed it into a music store.

In 1840, Ditson bought out Col. Parker’s interest and carried on the business of music seller and publisher under the name of Oliver Ditson.

He acquired the Oliver Ditson and Company moniker in 1857 when he began collaborating with John C. Haynes on what would become the John C. Haynes & Co..

Ditson's company published the first American edition of Haydn's The Creation, "Jingle Bells" and "Darling Nelly Gray", as well as most of the works of the Hutchinson Family - though Ditson refused to publish "Get Off the Track" due to its abolitionist sentiment.

In 1858, Ditson purchased Dwight's Journal of Music, a serious musical journal.

During the American Civil War, Ditson released a number of popular songs, including "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground".

Theodore Presser purchased the Ditson catalogue in 1931.


On December 21, 1888, Oliver Ditson, the pioneer of music publishing in America, died at the age of seventy-seven.[2]

Published by DitsonEdit




  • Cornelius, Steven Harry, PhD (born 1952) (2004). Music of the Civil War Era (access: preview only). Greenwood Press. pp. 19, 20, 22, 59. Retrieved July 17, 2008 – via Google Books. LCCN 2004-42531; ISBN 0-313-32081-0; OCLC 731512310 (all editions).


  1. ^ Fisher, William Arms (1861–1948) (1933). One Hundred and Fifty Years of Music Publishing in the United States; An Historical Sketch With Special Reference to the Pioneer Publisher, Oliver Ditson Company, Inc., 1783–1933. Boston: Oliver Ditson Company, Inc. Retrieved August 18, 2021 – via Internet Archive. LCCN 34-2890, LCCN 33-12389, LCCN 34-2890; OCLC 5923165 (all editions).
  2. ^ a b c Musical Courier (February 24, 1915). Liebling, Leonard (1874–1945) (ed.). "History of Oliver Ditson Company" (weekly journal). 70 (8). New York: Musical Courier Company. Ernest Frederick Eilert (1866–1943), President: 8. Archived from the original on March 20, 2015. Retrieved August 21, 2012 – via Wayback Machine. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ City of Boston, Neighborhood Development; Warsh, Lucy Alexis (Director of Media and Public Relations, Department of Neighborhood Development) (March 29, 2010). "Mayor Menino Joins Mission Hill Community to Celebrate New Housing in Renovated Mill Buildings" (press release). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 12, 2013 – via Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Oliver Lofts website
  5. ^ Historic Boston. "Highland Spring Brewery/Oliver Ditson Co.". Historic Boston Incorporated 1999 Preservation Revolving Fund Casebook: Property Entries Online (last updated August 12, 2002). Boston. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2013 – via Wayback Machine.

External linksEdit